White beaked dolphins

This morning I got a facebook message. A colleague of mine had spotted marine mammals on Kvaløya.

I packed the camera and the big telephoto lens and took the car there. I drove around and also took the tunnel to the neighbouring island Ringvassøya but I couldn’t spot any. On the way back I turned into the side road to Kvaløyvågen where I saw a parked car with hazard lights and two people standing, one with binoculars. I asked them if there were any whales around and they affirmed.

And then I saw them too – a pod of at least ten animals. They swam against the current of the sound Kvalsundet and I could spot them for a while. I took some photos and cropped the images, because they were round 300 metres away.

I do not know anything about dolphins. According to my colleague it’s White beaked dolphins.

Thanks a lot for the tipp, M. . It was a special experience to spot so many dolphins from land. Without your message I would have missed them.

 

Coastal walk through the snow

Yesterday it was warm in Tromsø and it rained a lot. Last night it got slightly colder and today it snowed at +1 °C. I decided not to ski but to take a coastal walk by the shore of Kvaløya.

Especially the first half was a wet experience with some heavy snow showers coming from the front. The clouds seemed to start just above my head and I couldn’t see Tromsøya nor any mountains.

Although I have become pretty wet the way back was more comfortable. The wind was in the back, the snowfall decreased and finally I even could see the mountains again.

Round three hours later I arrived at the car. The luv side was plastered with wet snow. And I was glad that a had spare clothes in the car I could change into.

Two weekends in Tromsø

No, I will not write about this year’s warm January weather in Tromsø, the sleet showers, the icy roads, the rain today. I will write about the last two weekends.

Saturday, 7 January

My first ski tour this year. And since I’m a lousy downhiller I start again at the parking place at Finnvika on the island Kvaløya where terrain is not steep. At the parking place I meet a group of skiers, each with a dog but we have different directions and soon I’m alone and will be for the rest of the tour. It is not sunny – we still have polar night – but the sky is blue and bright. I ski cross-country, I’m too lazy no navigate. Slowly I gain high, it won’t be more than round 300 metres today.

The forecast is right, it gets windier and gustier by the hour and the snow is drifting over the barren rocks and the snow fields.

Some hours and 9 km later I’m back at the car. Some mountain tops have huge cloud-like objects in the lee. It’s drifting and blowing snow, a clear sign for high wind speeds.

Tomorrow I planned to take a tour to Sommarøya together with Marika who works at the Norwegian Polar Institute as well. We wanted to watch the waves in the storm.

Sunday, 8 January

Already the day before I changed plans. The weather service forecasted wind gusts up to 27 m/s. That’s not the weather where I want to cross wind-exposed bridges with my car. I just walk to the near shore to spot the waves there. Tromsø however is quite sheltered between mainland and the island Kvaløya and the waves are not so huge.

Saturday, 14 January

A lazy day. Nothing more to say.

Sunday, 15 January

I fetch Marika and we take the car to Sommarøya. No storm, no wave watching, just sightseeing and being outside. We stop at the road through the valley Gáhttovuonvággi (Sami) or Kattfjorddalen (Norwegian) to take photos from the mountains that shone brightly in front of the dark, purple clouds. They look harsh and untouchable.

On Sommarøya we walk around and visit some of the sandy beaches. Don’t let the clear, turquoise water fool you – it’s not the tropics and the water is ice cold. From the beaches and hills there are a zillion views to the mountains and islands around. It’s a beautiful spot, just an hour away and I should go there more often.

Next weekend?

Well, the weather forecast does not look too promising, but we’ll see. Maybe the next blog article shows only black-and-white photos.

 

An almost outdoor barbecue on Kvaløya

Some days ago I got a message from Elisabeth. She already had organised several events with friends and acquaintances – always outdoors – and in this message she asked me:

Lyst å bli med på grilling på fredag etter jobb?

(Would you) like to join (us) for a barbecue on Friday after work?”  That sounded like fun and I gladly accepted the invitation.

Friday evening was calm and clear and with -12 °C pretty cold for Tromsø – the coldest day this season. So I put some food and a lot of warm clothes with me. I met Elisabeth and two of her friends at the parking place and we went down to the barbecue hut by the sea. It looked like just a normal wooden house. Only without door, without window panes and without any floor. Instead of this a huge fire place in the middle.

More people dropped by until we were eleven people in total. Some of them had reindeer skins with them but they were hardly used. You know these parties where all people gather in the kitchen? It was a bit alike, all of us stood round the fireplace in the middle of the hut. Some to make stick bread or sausages, some to grill marshmallows or prepare waffles and some just to stay warm.

It’s always great to meet interesting, nice people. It gets however a bit harder when most of them are native speakers, because my Norwegian is still not so well. But it gets better and better. While I couldn’t take photos from the conversations I could take photos from the beautiful surroundings, even from within the hut. Remember, no window panes.

After three hours people started to leave. I was the last one left, just to take some more photos, then I took the car home as well.

Thank you Elisabeth for the organisation and for inviting me. Or more Norwegian: takk for i går – thanks for yesterday!

 

The first frost – hiking tour on the Laukviktinden

Today was the second day, where my car was covered with ice in the morning. I had to scrape ice after breakfast because I wanted to drive to Kvaløyvågen on the island Kvaløya to hike up the Laukviktinden (587 m) today. The weather was calm and the sky was blue and I enjoyed the views on sea and mountains from the car.

When I passed the shallow bay Finnvika I just had to stop and go there. Large areas were covered with a thin layer of ice that sparkled in the sun. Autumn in Tromsø is a fast season. Last weekend the trees were colourful, now many of them are bare.

20 km later: I just parked my car by the sea and read the tour description. I should follow the road for 80 metres, take the gravel road to the left and leave it when it turns left. The rest of the tour would be pathless but according to the book easy to find.

When I left the gravel road the terrain was a bit tricky. It was more or less overgrown boulders with hidden holes. The trees had shed their leaves and almost looked dead. I was glad when I had reached the mountain ridge where it was much easier to walk. The wet moss was covered with frost and so were the water puddles. Laukviktinden came into view, but I knew that there would be an acsent before. It looked pretty steep. Hopefully it’s just the perspective.

And indeed it was less steep than expected. A bit tricky however because some parts were wet and slippery. And that one of the countless moss pads hid a knee deep water puddle was not nice ;-) ! It is always a satisfying experience when you gain altitude, are above the tree line and can see more and more – both fjords and mountains.

Just straight ahead I spotted the lake Laukvikvatna and its neighbours. They lie 50 metres below. So I first had to climb down before hiking up again. Most of the lakes were covered with a thin layer of ice.

From the lake it is only 200 more metres in altitude to the top – according to the tour book. That meant that most of the the ascent lied behind me. It was easy to go up, only the very last part was a steep boulder field. Probably not the best routeI chose, but that was hard to see from below.

The terrain flattened out and then – all of the sudden – I could see the summit marker: A huge pile of stones with a metal box containing the summit book. And behind that: The open sea with the island Vengsøya.

What do you do on mountain summits beside of adding your name to the summit book? Yes – you take a selfie! After that I went a bit further to a place where the terrain drops off steeply. Here the view was really impressive because I could not only see the open sea and its islands but the bay Laukvika and even the boggy marshland that looked like it was directly under my feet. Here I took my iPhone as camera because it has a wide angle lens.

I took a break, ate some cookies and drank water. I even met another hiker that probably hiked up twice as fast as me. Then I started my way back. I found a better way because it is so much easier to find a good path when you look from above. Later my optimism was dampened when I landed in quite steep terrain and had to traverse it a bit until I was on my old trail.

Round 9½ km later I reached the gravel road again. In the shadow the ground was still frozen, but the car that waited in the sun was warm.

Grønnlibruna and Petterbolhaugen

It’s Sunday. Weather forecast looks very promising and I want to go out hiking. I scroll through my tour book and the net and cannot decide. Finally I just grab my stuff and the book and take my car to Kvaløya where I mostly use to hike. I’ll find something.

While driving I remember the small mountain Grønnlibruna where I’ve been already in November and May. There’s a lot of birch forest in the first half of the hike – perhaps a good place to be in autumn. I drive to the place where the tour starts and park my car.

The sky is covered with clouds and clouds flow through the valleys as well. But the yellow birch leaves of the forest I’m hiking though shine colourfully.

I reach the top of Grønnlibruna. Although it is only 401 metres high I am above the tree line. I continue to a smaller hill in the southwest to enjoy the autumnal colours. Later I’ll learn that it has a name: Petterbolhaugen. I reach the top and just in this moment the sun comes out. It already had started to illuminate small parts of the impressive mountains but now it shines on my face.

The weather become sunnier and sunnier and the views on the mountain panoramas are beautiful.

Many trees have lost already many leaves and even tiny puffs of wind take more leaves with them. Soon the colourful autumnal tinted forests will transform into grey collections of bare trees. Then I will hope for the first snow. But today I collect the colours – for the blog, my memory and my soul.

A cloudy hike up the Stor-Kjølen

The weather forecast promised sun for most of the day today. Nice conditions for hiking up the Stor-Kjølen. I’ve been there once almost exactly one year ago, today I chose the other route coming from the Northeast.

I was there, my camera was there, however the sun wasn’t. Thick and low clouds hung over the whole mountainscape.

1 – The trail

5-5½ km long, leading up 560 metres in altitude. It is well marked and a visible trail most of the time. One boulder field has to be crossed and the last part is mainly pathless, but not steep.

2 – The reindeer

Much less shy than the Jämtland reindeer. They let me get quite close and one of them came within 3 metres. It seemed to be very curious and I expected it to touch me with its soft nose asking for goodies, but it went away. Another reindeer with huge antlers was much more careful and stayed with its small herd.

3 – The summit

Visible from a lot of places in and round Tromsø because of its prominent, mushroom shaped flight radar station at the top. Beneath the station – a small hut. It’s the varmebua, a heated hut driven by Troms Turlag. Very welcoming today, when it was foggy and round 4 °C.

4 – The weather

According to yr.no 4 °C and sunny. While the temperature might have been correct the rest wasn’t. It was cloudy and foggy and partially also drizzly. But then the sea started to shine and glare. While the sun itself was still hidden by clouds the reflection of the water surface sent sunlight upwards to the Stor-Kjølen. Amazing light, nearly unphotographable.

I waited in the hut for the weather to change, but in vain. On my way back to the car the cloud layer lifted and I could see a bit more of the fantastic surrounding scenery. But if took some more hours until the sun came out today and then I was long home.

A nice tour anyway. Or as the Norwegians say: ut på tur aldri sur – Out on a trip, never sour.

Just a hike up the Rødtinden

Today I joined a group of (much) younger people on a mountain hike up the Rødtinden (470 m). It was special in two ways: First of all it was nice to talk to a bunch of people from the USA, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Spain. An then – the weather! It was a real summer day with a cloudless sky and a lot of gorgeous views.

I didn’t take many pictures but some from a small pre-summit that we hiked to after reaching the main summit.

Hiking up the Nordtinden

After I failed reaching the summit of the Nordtinden (640 m) last November I gave it a second try today. It’s so much easier to navigate when there is no snow covering the path and the sparse way marks.

I start to follow the gravel road, which I leave after 2.7 km.

The small trail leads up steadily. It’s not so steep, that I have to climb but steep enough to raise my pulse to hummingbird level. I could blame it on my Covid infection two weeks ago but I guess it’s just a lack of fitness.

A movement to the left wakes me up. It’s a flock of ptarmigan fledglings with an adult. Some flutter away, some stay. I use the confusion to take some photos with my telephoto lens. The photos are heavily cropped, I want to keep distance.

I am above the tree line now and the views are impressive.

Most impressive is a chasm at the side of the trail. The gradient down? Perhaps 400%. Enough to keep safety distance while photographing.

The last part is rocky and pathless but the huge cairns marking the tops of Nordtinden (there seem to be two) are in view so I can navigate just by eye. I take it easy on the boulder fields. I reach summit number one and add myself to the summit register that lies sheltered in an aluminium box.

I continue a bit more west to get a better view to the sea. And there it is – the island Vengsøya with the smaller island Vågøya in the front.

I walk around to take some more pictures. I watch the ferry leaving Vengsøya and climb a bit down the slope to have a closer look to the nameless lake below the mountain Laukviktinden.

Then I walk back in a small circle, pass the other summit cairn and start to descend.

It’s always interesting how not only the view changes but the terrain as well. Round the summits it’s mostly rocks and boulder fields, then more and more grass is present and the path consists also of gravel and then earth, too. On the way back the lake Skulsfjordvatnet lies in the sun.

As most day trips the way back is the same as the way there. So I pass the sign to Nordtinden a second time and am on the gravel road again.

The change from forest to farmland shows that my car is not far away. After four hours and about 12 km I’m back from a lovely mountain hike.

Two more photos showing small things. The first one a beetle from the genus Carabus. The first one a berry from the genus Rubus. I was glad about both discoveries. The difference: The beetle stayed unharmed, the berry was eaten right after taking the picture.